First, let me get it out of the way and say that the protests in Wisconsin make me hopeful that the tide is turning. Of course, I also wonder if it’s turning to late, but I’m hopeful nonetheless.
When I first heard about the Wisconsin protests against anti-union legislation by the new Republican governor, a protestor commented that she voted for “less government intervention,” but “not this.” I was struck by the total lack of logic in this statement.
Protecting the rights of citizens and minorities IS GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION. A fundamental aspect of our type of government — limited democracy or representative repbulic — is the protection of minority groups against the tyranny of the majority. It is the purpose of the Bill of Rights.
In our day and age, we need far less protecting from a big powerful government than we do from big, powerful, oligopic corporations. This is the purpose unions and legislations protecting workers rights to organize and collectively bargin. As someone who has felt the sting of corporations bearing down a single, helpless employee, this is so important to me. Think about it: it’s you — employee with limited resources — vs corporation with attorneys on retainer and the ability to obtain way more money than you could ever imagine. How is that fair? How does that empower citizens or work in their welfare?
Interestingly enough, Adam Smith was super anti-corporations. His vision of capitalism was of single journeymen competing with each other for consumer’s business. In other words, it was one-on-one.
Now, it’s true that the corporation has become fundamental to our economy. However, that doesn’t mean that we should let corporations run rampant on our rights.
But I’ve digressed …. The point is. Why is Wisconsin surprised? Why is this woman who voted for “less government intervention” surprised that that meant union-busting? It is the government’s intervention that protects our rights. If you lessen that intervention, you lessen it’s ability to protect us.